Vegan Cacio e Pepe Pasta Recipe

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This classic vegan cacio e pepe recipe is just as rich and cheesy as the original, with no cheese or dairy required!

Vegan Cacio e Pepe Pasta

Easy dairy free cacio e pepe

Traditional cacio e pepe hails from the Lazio region of Italy and is made up of just three ingredients: pecorino Romano cheese, freshly ground black pepper, and spaghetti or tonnarelli pasta.

The name literally translates to “cheese and pepper” in Italian.

For this nondairy and plant based cacio e pepe, we employ cheesy nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese and onion powder in place of the Romano. And we include cashew cream for extra richness.

With just a few minutes of work, you get a homemade and healthy vegan dinner reminiscent of something you might find at a fancy Italian restaurant.

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Italian Vegan Pasta Recipe

Vegan cacio e pepe pasta sauce recipe video

Above – watch the step by step recipe video

Cacio e Pepe Ingredients

Ingredients for the vegan dinner recipe

Unlike many other vegan cacio e pepe recipes, this one calls for no cornstarch, cauliflower, miso paste, or silken tofu.

To make the dairy free cacio e pepe, you will need water, black pepper, onion powder, salt, nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese, and raw cashews or macadamia nuts.

Look for raw unsalted cashews, or choose salted nuts and decrease the salt in the recipe to taste. Or you may substitute half a cup of cashew butter.

You can save money by buying the nuts in the bulk bin offered at many health food stores, including Whole Foods. Some regular grocery stores also offer bulk bins.

For a keto cacio e pepe, use low carb macadamia nuts instead of cashews.

If you do not have any onion powder on hand, substitute it with half a sautéed or roasted onion or a tablespoon of diced onion flakes.

Note: If you want a version with no cashews, try this Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce.

Feel free to add your favorite nondairy milk in place of the water if you prefer. Options that work well include soymilk, almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.

Once you try this homemade version, you will never go back to the frozen cacio e pepe from Trader Joe’s ever again.

Egg Free Cacio e Pepe (Plant Based)

How to make vegan cacio e pepe pasta

Optionally, start by soaking the macadamia nuts or cashews in a cereal sized bowl of water for an hour or two. Drain and pat fully dry. This optional step increases the creamy texture of the sauce.

Combine the soaked nuts, onion powder, ground pepper, salt, vegan Parmesan or nutritional yeast, and two thirds cup water in a high speed blender until smooth.

If you have no high speed blender, such as a Vitamix or Blendtec, swap the cashews for half a cup of raw cashew butter and you may use any blender or food processor.

The sauce should look thin after blending. It will thicken considerably when heated in a saucepan or as it sits in the refrigerator.

Serve over cooked al dente pasta noodles, rice, shirataki noodles, or roasted spaghetti squash. Or try it alongside homemade Kale Chips or this Avocado Salad.

Store any leftover cacio e pepe sauce in an airtight covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Heat in a pot on the stove or microwave before serving.

For the best taste and texture, we do not recommend freezing the sauce.

Dairy Free Cacio e Pepe

The recipe was adapted from this Cashew Alfredo Sauce and my Vegan Alfredo Sauce.

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews or macadamia nuts (unsalted)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper plus more for serving
  • 8 oz pasta or spaghetti squash
  • If time permits, start by soaking the cashews in a bowl of water for an hour or two. Drain and pat dry. This optional step increases the creamy texture of the sauce. Blend all ingredients but the pasta in a high speed blender until very smooth. (If you do not own a high speed blender like a Vitamix, substitute half a cup of raw cashew butter for the nuts and use any blender or food processor.) The sauce should look thin. It thickens in the refrigerator or when heated in a saucepan. Serve over pasta, and garnish with vegan cheese and additional pepper if desired. Refrigerate any leftover sauce in a covered container for up to a week.View Nutrition Facts

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